One could also ask who is really being quixotic in arguments about how to deal with the nuclear legacy. Is it a pipe dream to think the nuclear genie can be put back in the bottle, or are the real dreamers those who think that fallible humanity can manage this technology without destroying what sustains life?
The dreamers remind me also of Don Quixote’s sidekick, Sancho Panza, who is the fool when his master is wise, and wise when his master is the fool. Throughout the story he often forgets, or pretends to forget, that his master is mad, and he goes along with his delusions, imagining that when Don Quixote prevails, he himself will be rewarded with a fiefdom in Africa that will provide him with an endless bounty of wine, gems and young maidens. It’s a boy’s dream of getting something for nothing, like electricity too cheap to meter—the dream of having servants at one’s command without a Faustian bargain in the deal. Sancho learns, when he actually does become a governor, that there is always a price too steep to pay, and he jumps at the chance to return to his humble home.
Carlos Fuentes said in his review of Grossman’s recent translation, “Don Quixote has so many levels of significance that I can set foot on only a couple of them.” I leave it to readers to add their own ideas about what the mash-up of the sketch means.